Sister Cities Park, at 18th & the Parkway, has recently opened up this past summer. Sister Cities Park is a dramatic and comprehensive re-imagination of Sister Cities Plaza, a 1.3 acre park on the eastern end of Logan Square across the street from the Cathedral Basilica of Saints Peter and Paul, that was built in the 1970s to commemorate Philadelphia’s “sister cities”. The Sister Cities program pairs cities around the world to encourage business and cultural ties between world cities. Philadelphia has ten sister cities now, but the original three were Florence, Italy; Tel Aviv, Israel; and Tianjin, China, which were mentioned in the original plaza on granite pylons.
This new park was developed by the Center City District, the quasi-governmental agency that has improved Center City’s quality of life over the last 20 years, and is funded by CCD and several government sources and foundations. The park was designed by DIGSAU, Studio Bryan Hanes, and Urban Engineers, and is the latest renovation of the green spaces of Logan Square, including Logan Circle, Shakespeare Park in front of the Central Library, and Aviator Park in front of the Franklin Institute (leaving only Pennypacker Park in front of the Family Courts Building, that will be sold off to a developer to likely be converted into a luxury hotel, to be renovated). It is managed and maintained by the Center City District.
The park has several interesting and unique features. At the southern end is a bluestone fountain with ten water jets which is, according to CCD’s website “a unique representation of the world with Philadelphia at its center” (as if we didn’t already know that) and displays the city’s ten sister cities at each water jet positioned by their geographic distance from Philadelphia. The fountain is meant to be a play area for children on a hot day, a cleaner alternative to the Swann Fountain at Logan Circle. North of the fountain is the Children’s Discovery Garden, designed to resemble the Wissahickon Valley in Fairmount Park, which has a dirt “hiking” trail that leads up to the top of a hill and a stream resembling the Wissahickon Creek, as well as, additional fountain jets. The trail includes signs educating hikers about the Wissahickon Valley. At the mouth of the stream is a little boat pond that children can wade into and sail boats, either their own boats or ones provided for rent by the Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory. The Philadelphia Wooden Boat Factory is an educational club that teaches young people how to make and sail model wooden sail boats. They, along with the Academy of Natural Sciences located across the street, offer numerous educational events throughout the year.
The park, also, has a cafe and visitor center for the Parkway. The cafe is a franchise of Milk & Honey Cafe of West Philadelphia. It offers local brand items, including La Colombe Coffee; Bassett’s Ice Cream; South Street Philly Bagels; and BT brownies, in a modern stone, glass, and wooden pavilion with outdoor seating and incredible views of Logan Circle and the skyline. They have “pairings” on Thursday evenings, in which customers can bring their own wine and pair it with Milk & Honey cheese and other items. Inside the cafe’s pavilion is a visitor center for Parkway attractions, where visitors to the Parkway can find info about or buy tickets for the Parkway museums. The visitor center, also, has a video screen that announces events and gives more info about the Parkway and the museums. The cafe pavilion has a green roof and geothermal cooling.
As I mentioned, this is the latest public space improvement on the Parkway. Besides the improvements to Logan Square, the Parkway has seen other improvements, including a new plaza at the new Barnes Foundation, a new cafe and renovation at Triangle Park at 16th Street, and renovating the sidewalks and lanes of the 2100 and 2200 blocks. Future improvements include rebuilding Dilworth Plaza (already underway), rebuilding Love Park (probably starting next year), and re-imagining Eakins Oval (still in the planning stages). If you are interesting in buying or selling a home or investment property in this spectacular cultural district or its adjacent neighborhoods, please contact me at Gabriel.firstname.lastname@example.org or check out my Facebook realtor page, Gabriel G. Philly Realtor, or my twitter page, @GabrielGPhilaRE. And, you can view my Long & Foster agent portal, here, or our Long & Foster Philly Center City office, here. You can, also, find out more about Sister Cities Park and the events going on there by clicking on this link to the CCD website, and read more at the website of Urban Engineers, here. And, I have many pictures, below, of the park that I took on the day of its grand opening late last spring.